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3 wallet-friendly meal services that make lunch easy

For the last few weeks, my Facebook feed has been a consistent parade of back-to-school pictures. Many parents are rejoicing. That is, until they realize they’re still on the hook for packing lunch. The struggle is real, folks. #strugglebus #dontmissthebus

I have fond memories of lunches packed with love from my mom. I had a pretty snazzy plastic briefcase-style She-Ra lunch box, complete with coordinating thermos.  I could always count on something healthy, a Boku, a little treat and often a cute note with words of encouragement and love. Kids in my class raised an eyebrow at that. Now, the brown bag lunch has been taken to another level with Pinterest boards dedicated to themed lunches, cut-out characters and crazy cool ideas from blogger Wendy Copley, author of “Everyday Bento: 50 Cute and Yummy Lunches to Go.” I mean, all these ideas are just too cute. However, this mama does not have time for that.

Please, tell me who has time to make Pinterest-inspired lunches. No one. That’s who. Unless you’re the “Debbie,” the one mom who effortlessly creates art out of healthy ingredients in a cute little presentation. But I’m not Debbie, and realistically, most of us aren’t.

Enter your lunch fairy godmother. These magic services have lunch (and even dinner) covered for all ages.

Pak’d

Founded in the Windy City by three parents, Pak’d eliminates the need for you to meal plan, grocery shop, prep and pack. Pak’d sources organic for all produce on the “dirty dozen” list. It’s also GMO-free and partner with local farms for poultry, meat and produce.

Each week, you can simply choose from five pre-selected paks with options like teriyaki chicken skewers served with pineapple, snap peas and chocolate-and-yogurt-covered raisins or roasted red pepper hummus, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and provolone cheese on whole wheat bread served with sliced kiwi and raspberries, a cucumber and tomato mix and chocolate-covered raisins and blackberries.

If you have a picky eater or specific dietary restrictions to accommodate, custom build your own pak! All lunches are nut- and tree nut-free. They also offer other allergen and dietary options, such as like gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free.

Pak’d bento-box-style lunches will cost you about $6.50. Choose between Sunday and Tuesday nights for delivery, which is a $3 fee.

Nurture Life

Fresh out of the kitchen, Nurture Life launched just last month in Chicago. The crazy idea was born in co-founder Jennifer Chow’s kitchen during the wee hours of the morning when she had an a-ha moment after meal prepping for her two boys. She was sacrificing precious sleep to ensure her two sons were well-fed. There had to be a better way.

Nurture Life is aimed at making eating healthfully pain-free, convenient and accessible for parents. Meal plans are designed to grow with your child from as early as 6 months up to 18 years of age and will cost anywhere from $45 (8 meals per week for babies 6 months and up) to $119 (10 meals per week for kids 14 and up). The carefully planned weekly menus are created under the supervision of renowned chefs and a pediatric dietician. With such a wide variety of meal plans and menus, such as Anjou pear, red beet and thyme puree and parmesan risotto with broccoli and butternut squash, it’s hard for little palettes to get bored.

Nuture Life also ensures that all ingredients are sustainable, organic and locally sourced as much as possibly to deliver the freshest meals reflective of the season’s bounty. The “never evers” on the company’s list include no artificial anything, no preservatives, no additives and no fillers.

Nurture Life’s mission is to make it easier for parents to feed their kids healthy, delicious, properly portioned meals from the start. Make your life a little easier, and sign up today!

OrgaNums

So let’s say your little isn’t quite school aged yet, but you still need to feed your hungry little monster. OrgaNums has you covered.

Most new parents have the idealist dream of making their own baby food. That is until the actual baby arrives, and you’re so sleep deprived that the thought of washing another organic carrot or steaming another batch of sweet potatoes gives your nightmares. It can be quite a laborious process.

Crafted out of the necessity to feed her son only the best, local mom and founder Ashley Rossi perfected her recipes, and OrgaNums was born.

OrgaNums is a convenient, organic baby food delivery system in the Chicagoland area that boasts organic, all-natural ingredients with no fillers, preservatives, chemicals or dilution and is flash frozen. By freezing the purees, it locks in all the nutrients that the “other organic shelf stable” brands cannot offer. What’s great about this is that OrgaNums will safely last in your freezer for six to nine months.

Choose from two packages: “The Curious Nibbler,” which includes a two-pack of each of the six recipes (a total of 12 meals) for $29.99 or “The OrgaNums Connoisseur,” which includes 18 two-packs (a total of 36 meals) for $85.00.

Simply order from the online store, and it will be delivered right to your front door.

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